Sept. 7, 2016 – At the G20 leaders summit held over the weekend in China, climate change and tax avoidance were centre stage. The United States and China ratified the Paris Climate agreement. However, as the treaty lacks concrete demands for action, more concrete measures are needed.
Climate change and tax evasion are symptoms of our broken system. The energy transformation involves not just switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but also challenging the corporate power and greed that has led to these twin crises.
“The G20 summit failed again to substantially address two major crisis facing our planet– growing inequality and climate change. Real climate and economic justice requires people and countries most affected to have say in the process, not more of the same failed policies of corporate globalisation”, said Sam Cossar-Gilbert Friends of the Earth International Economic Justice – Resisting Neoliberalism coordinator.
“Yet energy revolution remains possible if we act globally, for our research shows that government revenue lost to tax avoidance alone could power half the world with 100% renewable energy,” he added.
“We are facing a planetary emergency and G20 politicians have their heads in the sand. The world’s richest multinational corporations and individuals do not pay their fair share of taxes and continue to pollute without limit. We need fewer words and more action”, said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International Climate Justice and Energy coordinator.
“G20 leaders remain captured by vested interests, as the finance to tackle climate change is staring them in the face – governments globally just need to stop tax dodging by the richest 1%”, she added.
Globally every year up to $600 billion dollars of government tax revenue is lost through tax avoidance alone 1. A new report, launched by Friends of the Earth International during the G20 summit, calculates that government revenue lost to tax havens over a 15-year period could power Africa, Latin America and much of Asia with 100% renewable energy. This includes many G20 countries: Argentina; Brazil; India; Indonesia; South Africa. Stopping tax avoidance and evasion gives an opportunity to increase spending on public services – including community and socially controlled renewable energy.
The G20 have been talking about climate change for a long time. The 2009 summit’s official communiqué said, “We reaffirm our commitment to address the threat of irreversible climate change, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.” However, for just as long, they have done very little and instead supported false solutions. It is a similar story on tax justice: all talk, no action. At the G20 tax meeting in July they called for a “tax policy overhaul” – yet follow through remains elusive.
Friend of the Earth International believes that a 100 % renewable energy revolution is financially well within reach. But the political will to drive the transformation is absent.
1 . A. Crivelli, R. de Mooij and M. Keen (2015). Base Erosion, Profit Shifting and Developing Countries, IMF Working Paper 15/118. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp15118.pdf.
Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 75 national member groups and some 2 million members and supporters around the world. We challenge the current model of economic and corporate globalisation, and promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies.